Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pakistan Orders Major Offensive: Will Obama Match it on the Afghan Side?

Something has been bothering me about our situation in Afghanistan. It seems that Pakistan is actually engaging Al Queda and the Taliban, and we're debating a "surge" in troops on the Afghan side of the border. It's a very complicated situation, but in simple terms, here's what it looks like: Pakistan is actually "stepping up to the plate" in this front of the war, and perhaps driving some of the foreign fighters back into Waziristan.(link)


Pakistan has largely beaten back a Taliban insurgency in the northwestern Swat Valley in recent months and intelligence officials say the country is preparing a major offensive against al-Qaida and the Taliban in South Waziristan. The military has been blockading the region and seeking to encourage other tribes to rise up against Hakimullah.


So what's happening on the Afghan side of the Waziristan border? (link)


"I don't foresee the return of the Taliban. Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling," Jones said. "The al-Qaida presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies."


In fact, Jones numbers may be correct, but he doesn't mention the numbers of Al Quaeda across the Waziristan border who do have the "ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." Osama escaped from Afghanistan into Pakistan after the battle of Tora Bora, according to many accounts (JF Kerry's, among other notables). Waziristan is the area he actually escaped to (link), and the Pakistani military is finally moving in that direction. This should be encouraging to the US, but our current administration is waffling on "stepping it up" on the Afghan side of the border.


Then there's this, also from the second link:


Administration officials have tried, instead, to focus some of the debate on Pakistan, noting that Islamabad has stepped up its campaign against militants along the border. Those efforts, said Jones, could provide a key shift in the war.


"We hope that will lead to a campaign against all insurgents on that side of the border, and if that happens, that's a strategic shift that will spill over into Afghanistan," he said.


Being a layman, I don't have all the intel that the policy makers have. Still, it looks as if it's been "spilling over" into Afghanistan since Pakistan started their campaign. US casualties have been increasing for months. I remember something Obama said during the campaign, about chasing down Osama across the border, if need be. This looks like the best chance he'll get to fulfill that declaration, and for some reason now our strategy needs "reassessment?"


Maybe it does. The Taliban and Al Queda seem to be quite comfortable operating in Afghanistan to a degree not seen in years. Something has to change there, and soon. Karzai's election was as fraudulent as Ahmedinejad's, though without the ensuing violence. That's the political part of the equation, and it will factor into the military equation. President Obama is between "a rock and a hard place" on this one. He should authorize more troops, and change the "strategy" simultaneously.


Clamp the vise on both North and South Waziristan, in cooperation with Pakistan. This is the "dead-ender's" last refuge, and the suspected location of Osama. I don't understand how this could be a partisan issue, since the president campaigned on it. However, the liberal congressional caucus is "showing their power" by introducing a bill to defund any "surge" in Afghanistan troop levels. LOL-That won't go anywhere, yet, but Pres. Obama's waffling isn't reassuring, either. Let's see some action, Mr. President.




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